Monday, May 23, 2005


--Reviewed by Patrick

Plotline: The Freelings have everything a family could want: a beautiful new house, a loving family and a cadre of evil undead souls haunting them. The result is a classic horror movie. Not one of us, who went through the 80's, could hear the phrase "they're here!" the same way again.

Scariness factor: This is tough to judge. This is, honestly, the first time I'd seen Poltergeist since I was a little kid, when it scared the living sh*t outta me. In particular, the clown doll, which eventually does come to life, tied into a close held fear I once had of evil dolls. Now, as an adult, I found it much less scary, with effects that, at times, seemed bordering on cheesy. That said, there are still some honest scares to be had. In particular, a scene where the son, covered in blood, searches for his sister, only to find a TV on static and her disembodied voice screaming for help, still sent a shiver down my spine.

Originality: As they say in the movie: "At least it wasn't built on an old Indian burial mound!"
In a movie whose themes of evil spirits and houses on cemeteries are so cliché by today's standards, it's hard to give them a fair shake on this one. I mean, from 'The Haunting' to 'The Amityville Horror', houses that are "born bad" are certainly nothing new. So, one could look at it as "just another haunted house movie" or as a classic example of the genre, depends on how much you like the movie.

Complaints: Raise your hand if you remember the older sister in this movie. Anyone? anyone?? Nope and neither did I. Granted, it had been awhile between viewings, but rewatching it, it's easy to see how she could have been forgotten. Her character is beyond useless. She appears in random parts of the movie, mainly just to scream and serves the plot in no way/shape/form. In fact, through most of the movie, she is absent, without any explanation, only to reappear at the very end. It just seems so oddly out of place.

Other High Points: 'Poltergeist' doesn't waste any times and starts the scares early. Though this results in a bit of a lull that must be rescued by the quirky psychic Tangina Barrons (I swear, she's like 2 feet tall), it also gets you on edge from the get-go. The movie also scores unintentional creepy points due to the untimely death of two of the actresses. Heather O'Rourke (who plays the abducted Carol Anne) died at the age of 13, after filming only 6 movies (3 of which being the Poltergeist franchise). Dominique Dunne (the older sister) was strangled to death by her boyfriend, just 1 year after the release of this film.

Overall: Though the sequels were pale imitations of the original, the original 'Poltergeist' should be on everyone's "must watch" list.

(Check out Lindy Loo's Review for a second opinion)

Grade: A-



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